When my son turned one, I made the decision for him to be circumcised. This is typically a procedure done at birth or shortly thereafter, but since he was just one pound at birth, the hospital wouldn’t perform the procedure. When he came home from the NICU, we visited a urologist who recommended waiting until he was a year old.
What all this meant was that when the time came, I’d bring him to the children’s hospital for a day surgery where they’d have to put him under anesthesia. Like an adult, there were risks with this, and preparation. He couldn’t eat or drink past midnight the night before and nothing but water the next morning.
His procedure was on a Monday. My husband couldn’t get out of work so I brought my father for support. When my son was called in, they had me bring him to the back to dress in his little hospital robe. We waited in a hospital crib before being brought in for surgery. I held on to him as they put him under trying to comfort him as they put the mask on his face. For that split second, he was so scared. For that split second, I held it together for him before leaving the room to fall apart.
He was still asleep from the anesthesia when he was brought out for recovery. He woke up shortly thereafter, before the anesthesia could wear off, which left him wailing like I’d never heard before. I tried comforting him with little success. After maybe 30 minutes the nurses tried to help. He was going to be fine but the drugs had to wear off. It seemed like forever for it to end, and once it did, I got us out of there as quickly as I could.
This was just one of many decisions I’d have to make for my son. It wasn’t the first and it won’t be the last. And while I make daily decisions for him now – what he’ll eat, drink, wear; what toys he’ll get, what stroller, car seat, bottles, etc – it’s the big decisions that scare me the most. It’s the ones that will impact him possibly for the rest of his life.
It’s where I’ll raise him, where he’ll go to school, what activities he’ll participate in, it’s medical decisions, providing the learning supports he needs, it’s in everything we do. Every decision needs thought, research, possible professional or experienced opinions. Some decisions will consider other things like what are others doing, cultural and societal norms and whether to abide by them, and financial implications. All decisions will be made based on what my husband and I deem to be the right decision for our son and our family. Every decision comes with the possibility of being wrong but I have to make them nonetheless. I have to take risks, calculated risks, on behalf of my son, until he can make his own decisions, then I become a mere moral compass ready to guide him when needed.
At this young age, I try to encourage decision-making. I offer milk and water for him to choose. I offer the toy car and the toy train. I pay attention when he shakes his head no when I offer food. I want him to be aware that there are choices in most things in life, and I need to give him the tools to make the best possible decisions he can. As the years go by the decisions will only get heavier and more critical and it’s essential that I empower him to lead his life.
I just hope I pave the way for him to happiness, as much as I can control it without controlling his decisions. Because happiness is the goal, isn’t it?